I’m nearly halfway done with my unemployment benefits. Halfway. And no job.
It’s beyond nerve wracking. It’s petrifying.
And so, it was interesting to find the following equation in the book I’m reading by Abraham Maslow: No Future = No Neurosis.
Makes sense. What’s there to be neurotic about if there’s no future. Context. Meaning. These things are important.
And it got met thinking about success – after all, that’s why I’m reading Maslow in the first place.
I tried simple substitution: No Success = No Neurosis.
… Um, no.
But there was something there; I could feel the bee buzzing in my heading. Something about context and meaning.
Neurosis is created by reference. That reference is the future.
And then: BINGO. Success – Reference = Meaningless.
… which was a lot like saying: Success – X = 0. Um… it didn’t really mean anything.
What’s the Reference?
That’s when I realized I had an algebra problem on my hands. I stomped around the house, bitching and complaining because, basically, I hate algebra!!! And Vicky gave me that “I married a lunatic” look she’s been giving me so often lately.
… solve for X.
If Success – Reference = Meaningless, then… umm….
Taking away the reference removes the meaning of success… that means that success connects you (provides context) to the reference…
I went around the house. “What’s the reference? What’s the reference?”
I began a list. It couldn’t be things people think of as success (money, fame, fortune) because I wasn’t trying to find that. I was trying to find the thing that success connects a person to… and, strangely enough, it started to come together. Money is meaningless without… Fame is meaningless without… Fortune is meaningless without… Put in those terms, the reference was obvious.
I sat down with Vicky and asked her help.
“I think what I’m saying is that success is meaningful when it connects you with people in your life.”
“Sure,” she agreed.
“But what else does this? What connects you meaningfully with other people?”
Vicky didn’t realize it but she was about to give me the answer the blew the whole thing wide open. She said, “Just interacting with people.”
I was so stupid!
Success – Reference = Meaningless
Success + Reference (that being a connection with others) = Meaningful. Which is to say, success is meaningful when it connects you to others.
Therefore, connecting with others in a meaningful way brings success. It blew the whole thing open. That’s why those who have little material wealth but have people who love them feel successful and who those who have amassed millions but have few friends feel empty.
It also answered the question I’ve been asked so often, “What’s the point of this?”
A mathematical way of expressing decency to others….
I’ve got to finish this book.